October 30th, 2020
Earlier this month we shared with you our Editorial Committee's letter on 2020 Elections and Antiwar politics. We're pleased to share this piece in response from Joey Ayoub, a Lebanese academic based in Zurich who writes extensively on anti-authoritarian struggles worldwide. He writes: Biden is problematic, but he can be pushed to the left if we intensify our struggles for justice and equality.
"Critiquing or even criticizing elections for, ultimately, not leading to fast enough change or even sometimes hampering change can and should be done, but it should be done in parallel to developing and promoting a risk assessment culture. There should be a way for anti-authoritarian progressives to multiply the angles from which we tackle an issue, and to arm ourselves with the tools to push for social and environmental justice in as many settings as we can, from the household to the street and passing by the ballot box, the school/university, places of worship, workplaces and so on. To take one example: oppositions to the carceral regime can benefit from more serious prison reforms, which would at least benefit those currently being victimized by it, and which could allow wider networks to be formed with prison abolition as their goal.
Developing a risk assessment culture requires an understanding of the irreversible nature of the threat of climate catastrophe and the immediate threat of American authoritarianism. This also requires rejecting the tendency that exists within activist circles to adopt an “all-or-nothing” attitude when the consequences are already largely outside of individuals’ control. Not doing so leads to the fatalistic conclusion that nothing we do ultimately matters, and neither people nor justice can function under these assumptions.
I also urge against the notion that elections don’t matter in the United States, not just because that’s an objectively false statement but also because, as a Lebanese, I know what it’s like to come from a country where they truly don’t. At 29 years old, I have been allowed to vote only one time in my life because the Lebanese parliament, barely recovering from the Syrian military occupation, illegally extended their own term multiple times, with no one to challenge them. In that one election, which occurred in 2018 after being postponed from 2009, the independents running had to contend with the entire sectarian establishment as their opponents. They made modest gains, but not enough to make a difference. They also ran without the certainty — unlike in the pre-Trump United States — that the loser of an election will concede to the winner, nor did they have the certainty that they won’t be murdered should they win." - Joey Ayoub
We know that many of you are preparing for the election in different ways: whether it's phone banking with organizations like Seed The Vote or preparing to respond to a stolen election (check out Joanne Sheehan's resources to stop a coup here).